Reparations,Responsibility and victim-hood in Transitional Societies
Reparations are measures aimed at remedying the harm suffered by victims of serious violations
of their human rights. Despite over a decade since the cessation of hostilities in northern Uganda
and the promises of a comprehensive transitional justice programme that included reparations, it
remains undelivered. A year on from the government’s publication of the National Transitional Justice
Policy that set out reparations as one of five priority policy areas, there has been little progress to
pass legislation to give it effect. This is notwithstanding the long-term consequences of the over
two decades Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Government of Uganda conflict on victims and their
families throughout northern Uganda.
This report draws from interviews with key stakeholders on their perceptions on reparations and
ways to move forward the debate in July 2018. It aims to provide some general sentiments on a
range of actors’ understanding of reparations, what should be considered in a reparation process
and forms such measures take, as well as some of the challenges in implementing reparations for
the conflict in Northern Uganda. The report is attached here below.
Reparations,Responsibility and victimhood in Transitional Societies
Reparations are measures intended to acknowledge and remedy the harm suffered by victims,
which in turn can contribute to alleviating grievances of the past and preventing violations in the
future. In South Sudan reparations could play an important part in entrenching a human rights
based culture and to move away from cycles of violence. Reparations can tap into traditional
customary principles of compensation in South Sudan and community dispute resolution to
redress some of the individual and communal harm. However, with ongoing insecurity and
violence, reparations by themselves may appear as ‘buying off’ certain groups, rather than
comprehensively dealing with the root causes and drivers of violence. In many other transitional
contexts emerging from conflict, reparations play a complementary role to measures of justice
(criminal trials, restorative or traditional dispute resolution, conditional amnesty), truth (inquiries,
truth commissions, opening archives) and guarantees of non-repetition (vetting, human rights
education, constitutional reform). Together these four strands provide a framework for a country
to deal with the past so that it does not recur and those who suffer do not bear the burden on the
conflict by themselves.
This report is based on engagement with different actors in South Sudan and aims to start a
conversation on the merits of reparations in responding to the consequences of the conflict.
It also seeks to highlight South Sudan as a case study for further transitional justice research
and policy engagement. The report begins by providing the context of the conflict before
outlining the scale of victimisation in South Sudan caused by the conflict since 2013. The
following section details ongoing transitional proposals on reparations, as well as discussing
the traditional practice of compensation and donor support. The final section emphasizes some
key challenges for a prospective reparation mechanism in South Sudan. The end of the report
provides some recommendations aimed at the South Sudanese government, rebel groups and
the international community. Download the full publication below here.
Reparations in South Sudan